Topics:  churchill fellowship, oakey army aviation base, planes, toowoomba, war

Fellowship to help warbirds

Retired army major Peter Ford will travel to England to research planes flown by Australians in the First World War.
Retired army major Peter Ford will travel to England to research planes flown by Australians in the First World War. Nev Madsen

RETIRED army major Peter Ford will fly half way around the world to gather the information he needs to replicate some of Australia's first war birds.

He is excited about the prospect which has come about after he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to England for his research into pre-1919 planes used by the Australian Flying Corps.

Mr Ford was based at Oakey Army Aviation Base as an aeronautical engineer before he left in 1985 to pursue a career in teaching.

He retired and since 2008 has volunteered at the Museum of Australian Army Flying at Oakey.

"Since I came out here I got very interested in World War One aeroplanes," Mr Ford said.

His fellowship will help him to travel to various military and science museums as well as libraries and archives to seek out the designs of the planes flown by Australians in the First World War.

The journey should take him five to six weeks and he hopes to leave at the end of September.

He said he planned to take detailed photographs of the planes, something he and fellow volunteers needed desperately to help build accurate replicas.

"I'll bring it back here and hopefully we will make one or two replicas as a result of my studies.

"All of the information I gather will be deposited in our library."

Mr Ford said he applied unsuccessfully for the fellowship in 2010 but was encouraged to try again.

"We want to display the replicas for future generations."

Meanwhile, Stanthorpe winemaker Mike Hayes has also been awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

His grant will allow him to travel to Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to research alternative grape varieties that would suit Queensland's climate.



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